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19 Dec 2006 : Column 1910W—continued

RDAs

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what criteria (a) the North West Regional Development Agency and (b) other regional development agencies use (i) to assess their general progress and (ii) to measure the effectiveness of the grants they make. [110154]

Margaret Hodge: All the Regional Development Agencies are required to prepare and publish Corporate Plans with a three-year planning horizon, to synchronise planning and funding with the Spending Review process. These plans are revised every two years. The current Corporate Plans cover the period 2005-08. The Corporate Plan outlines how each RDA will deploy resources to meet the objectives and targets set in the Plan. Progress made in delivering against Corporate Plan commitments is then monitored by the RDA Board and reported publicly every six months on each RDA’s website. A report on progress made in delivering against the Tasking Framework core output targets set in Corporate Plans is laid in the House every six months.

Each RDA is required to appraise grant requests in line with the Single Programme Appraisal Guidance, which incorporates HM Treasury’s “The Green Book-Appraisal and Evaluation in Central Government”. The Guidance requires the RDA to measure the effectiveness of each grant made. The contract between the RDA and the applicant should include provision for effective monitoring of delivery and evaluation of the results. It should focus on the critical success factors, which were identified at the appraisal stage, and its conclusions should assess whether these were met and the outcomes and outputs delivered. Normally evaluation will occur at a period after project closure when the impact can be assessed, usually six months after closure.

Retirement Age

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry pursuant to the answer from the Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office, the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-East (Mr. McFadden), to the hon. Member for Blackpool, South (Mr. Marsden) of 4 December 2006, Official Report, columns 189-90W, on the retirement age, what his Department’s policy is for the setting of retirement ages for staff below the Senior Civil Service under the Civil Service (Management Functions) Act 1992. [107910]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Department’s retirement age for staff below the Senior Civil Service is 65; this policy was introduced in 2002. In addition, since 1 October 2006, all staff have had the right to request to work beyond the age of 65.

The Department has decided to retain the default retirement age of 65 in the short term. This will be reviewed at the beginning of 2008 ahead of the wider review of the default retirement age in 2011.


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Small Firms Loan Guarantee Scheme

Mr. Holloway: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much has been spent on supporting small and medium-sized enterprises through the Small Firms Loan Guarantee scheme in each region in 2005-06. [104948]

Margaret Hodge: Expenditure on the Small Firms Loan Guarantee (SFLG) occurs when a borrower defaults and the participating lender affected makes a ‘Demand’ against the Government guarantee.

In the 10 years from 1995-96 the total number of loans guaranteed under the scheme were 63,366 with a value of over £3 billion. In year 2005-06 there were 2,131 demands with a total value of £78.262 million arising from loans guaranteed over the previous 10 years. In the same year 5,957 new loans with a value of £422 million were guaranteed.

The regional demand figures for 2005-06 were as follows:

Number of demands Value of demands (£)

East Midlands

160

4.958 million

East of England

213

8.759 million

Greater London

227

9.424 million

North East

61

1.733 million

North West

218

8.290 million

Northern Ireland

12

661,000

Scotland

250

8.773 million

South East

319

12.769 million

South West

225

8.178 million

Wales

112

3.440 million

West Midlands

202

6.357 million

Yorkshire and the Humber

132

4.920 million


The hon. Gentleman should be aware that the figures refer to demands settled in 2004-05. Demand can be made against the guarantee at any point during the term of the loan, which may be up to 10 years. Therefore the payments made in 2004-05 relate to loans guaranteed over the preceding 10 years, but principally in the preceding three years.

Default rates experienced in SFLG have fallen from a peak in 1991, and the changes to the administration of the scheme introduced in December 2005 following the Graham Review are intended to ensure that this trend continues.

Smart Metering

Mr. Gummer: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions the Government have had with stakeholders on smart metering systems. [109639]

Mr. Darling: My officials have held two seminars with stakeholders as part of the Energy Review Consultation process on metering and billing. In addition, officials have held a number of meetings with suppliers and meter manufacturers.


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Telephone Service Providers

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will take steps to ensure that those most vulnerable at-risk service users registered with telephone service providers have faults dealt with within four hours; and if he will make a statement. [102040]

Margaret Hodge: The matter raised is the responsibility of the Regulator, the Office of Communications (Ofcom), which is accountable to Parliament rather than Ministers. Accordingly, I have asked the Chief Executive of Ofcom to reply directly to the hon. Member. Copies of the Chief Executive’s letter will be placed in the Libraries of the Houses.

Trade Policy

Peter Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether UK Trade and Investment staff overseas have a role in the formulation of trade policy; and if he will make a statement. [109623]

Mr. Darling: UKTI staff overseas contribute to the formulation of trade policy in a number of ways:

Union Modernisation Fund

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will review the (a) value for money and (b) efficacy of the grants given to (i) Amicus, (ii) the Communications Workers Union, (iii) Prospect, (iv) the GMB, (v) the Wales TUC, (vi) Community, (vii) the Transport and General Workers Union, (viii) Connect and (ix) the National Union of Teachers under the Union Modernisation Fund in March 2006; and if he will make a statement. [112645]

Mr. Darling: An independent supervisory board assessed all applications against the Union Modernisation Fund criteria. The bids were assessed to ensure that they fell within the scope of the fund; to ensure that they had been realistically costed and offered value for money; and had suitable project management arrangements in place for effective delivery of the project.

Arrangements are in place to evaluate expenditure under the fund.

Unions 21

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry pursuant to the answer of 11 December 2006, Official Report, column 811W, on Unions 21, on what dates and for what purpose public money has been paid to Unions 21 since 1999. [110083]


19 Dec 2006 : Column 1913W

Jim Fitzpatrick: A total of £19,915 was paid to Unions 21 for a project under the DTI’s Strategic Partnership Fund in March 2006.

£80 was paid to Unions 21 in March 2003 for attendance at a conference.

Work-life Balance

Dr. Francis: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of (a) the effect of care responsibilities on the work-life balance for employees and (b) the merits of introducing employer-supported adult care voucher schemes. [109265]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The information requested is as follows.

Health

Alcohol Screening

Mr. Burrowes: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many hospitals in England routinely screen for alcohol intake patients admitted to the hospital. [108672]

Caroline Flint: This information is not held centrally.

Alcoholic Drinks: Labelling

Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on representations to the European Union in relation to mandatory labelling listing all ingredients in alcoholic drinks; and if she will make a statement. [110218]

Caroline Flint: In response to a European Commission consultation on food labelling earlier this year, the Government supported in principle ingredient listing for all alcoholic drinks. They did, however, recognise that there would be difficulties in the detailed application that would need to be fully worked through to ensure that requirements are kept simple and proportionate.

This line was informed by an extensive public consultation, and was cleared across Government by the European Policy Committee, whose members include the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.


19 Dec 2006 : Column 1914W

Alexander Litvinenko

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when the Health Protection Agency was first (a) notified of and (b) asked to assist in the investigation into the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko. [107389]

Caroline Flint: We have been advised by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) that an HPA officer was contacted by the police and asked to attend a meeting on the morning of 22 November regarding the circumstances of Mr. Litvinenko’s illness. The officer then attended a meeting of forensic experts during the afternoon of the 22 November. Following this meeting the HPA commenced its investigation.

Calorie Intakes

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate she has made of the average daily calorific intake of a (a) male and (b) female (i) aged 11 and under, (ii) aged 12 to 17 and (iii) aged 18 and over in each year since 1997. [108620]

Caroline Flint: The most recent information available on the average daily energy (calorie) intake of males and females is shown in the table. This is taken from the 1997 national diet and nutrition survey of young people aged 4-18 years and the 2000-01 national diet and nutrition survey of adults aged 19-64 years.

Average daily energy intake (kcal) by sex and age
Energy intake (kcal/day)
Age (years) Male Female

4-6(1)

1,520

1,397

7-10(1)

1,777

1,598

11-14(1)

1,968

1,672

15-18(1)

2,285

1,622

19-64(2)

2,313

1,632

(1) Data from Gregory J, Lowe S, Bates CJ, Prentice A, Jackson LV, Smithers G, Wenlock R and Farron M. “National Diet and Nutrition Survey: young people aged 4 to 18 years. Volume 1: Report of the diet and nutrition survey.” TSO (London: 2000).
(2)Data from Henderson L, Gregory J, Irving K and Swan G. “National Diet and Nutrition Survey: adults aged 19 to 64 years. Volume 2: Energy, protein, carbohydrate, fat and alcohol intake”. TSO (London: 2003).

There are no data available on an annual basis. This lack of trend data was the major driver behind the Food Standards Agency’s decision to set up a new rolling programme of national diet and nutrition surveys. The rolling programme will cover all ages from one and a half years upwards and will provide more frequent data for children and adults, so strengthening the ability to track changes over time. The first results from the rolling programme should be available in 2009.

Carers

Dr. Francis: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment her Department has made in the health effects of care responsibilities; what assessment she has made of the merits of an employer-supported care voucher scheme to help alleviate such potential effects; and if she will make a statement. [109290]


19 Dec 2006 : Column 1915W

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Government recognise that caring can affect a person's health and introduced the carers grant in 1999 to support councils in providing breaks and services for carers in England. The grant has been increased annually and has provided an extra £35 million since 1999.

The Department has not specifically assessed the merits of an employer-supported voucher scheme. We are considering a range of options around the future of social care provision. In assessing proposals, as part of the long-term vision of the 2007 comprehensive spending review (CSR), the Government will consider whether they are affordable, whether they are consistent with progressive universalism and whether they promote independence, dignity, well-being and control in line with ‘Improving the Life Chances of Disabled People’, the White Paper ‘Our Health, Our Care, Our Say’ and the national service framework for older people.


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